Mysticism and allegory in Porphyry's De antro nympharum
This report examines Porphyry’s De antro nympharum and its eclectic mixture of philosophy, allegory, and mysticism in the form of a Homeric commentary. The paper situates Porphyry’s commentary in the broader tradition of Homeric interpretation with special attention to Stoic exegesis and Platonic views on poetry and myth. It also contextualizes Porphyry’s philosophy in terms of the mystery cults, particularly Mithraism, that had grown very popular by Porphyry’s time. The paper argues that Porphyry devised a practice of reading intended to promote a level of philosophical contemplation beyond the level of rational discourse, in keeping with the Neoplatonic philosophy of his teacher, Plotinus, and that this practice is especially evident in the De antro nympharum.